We spent one day in Johannesburg and Soweto on the way from Cape Town, during our 8-day trip to South Africa.
Johannesburg was founded on 4 October 1886 during the gold rush, so it’s also known as the City of Gold. Locals there call the city Jo’burg. Johannesburg has the reputation of being dangerous. So initially we were thinking of skipping this, but our connection from Victoria Falls to Cape Town was through Johannesburg which made us change our decision. Soweto was a separate city from the late 1970’s until 1994, but now is part of Johannesburg. It’s an acronym for “South-Western Townships”.
We hired a car for the day and took a trip of the city – saw some parts and found a very different kind of beauty here. We were told that graffiti is legal here, so many walls of the buildings and structures were covered with street art by artists and murals were spray painted on them giving a very bright and colorful look. There was art pretty much everywhere around.
The Hillbrow Tower is the tallest structure on the African continent and was constructed by Telkom – the South African Post and Telecommunications company. It was later renamed the ‘Telkom Jo’burg Tower’.The Constitution Hill precinct, located just west of Hillbrow in Johannesburg, is the seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and is, the highest court in the country in terms of matters relating to the Constitution. It was formerly a court and then became a prison. “Constitutional Court” is written in eleven official languages on the front & side.
The building has the judges’ chambers, the courtroom, the law library and the art gallery.
There is a statue of the Angry Godzilla, which is three metre high statue carved from a single leadwood tree by artist John Baloyi on the northern end of the court building.
We saw the Orlando Towers in Soweto which is famous for bungee jumping.
We saw the FNB Stadium which is the largest soccer stadium in Africa. It has a capacity of around 95,000 and has 195 executive suites. The stadium was completed in 1989 and again renovated in 2009 in time for the FIFA World Cup held in 2010, which was played by the Netherlands and Spain. It was the site of Nelson Mandela’s first speech in Johannesburg after his release from prison in 1990.
In Soweto we went to the Vilakazi Street – it is famous for the fact that two Nobel Prize winners lived on this street – former Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. was at at 8115 Vilakazi Street which has now been turned into a museum for tourists. Nelson Mandela returned to his former home here following his release from prison in 1990.
We also saw another of Nelson Mandela’s residence where he and his family lived from 1946 into the 1990’s.
Johannesburg’s history related to Apartheid in the past and the post-apartheid era had so much influence on the city’s cultural and historic front.
During our visit we got to learn about the history & some interesting facts about the modern city. The people we met were very warm and friendly everywhere and were eager to share their stories and facts with us.